In a world where science is able to create artificial intelligences that simplify human life – it is the example of INVICTUS – Algorithm Betting , the first algorithm that computes perfect predictions – mathematics has made its way into a central role. David Sumpter is among the first to believe and to defend the predictive power of numbers and has decided to share his story with us.
My name is David Sumpter and I am a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Like any self-respecting mathematician, I never loved the risk, so I never thought of becoming a bettor. At least until September of last year.
I’ve lived in Manchester for a long time, and have seen several greyhound races. Once I even went to Aintree Racecourse to see the Gran National, the famous horse race in England. Despite this, I never intended to get into any sort of gambling, or start an online account.
I spent time with several friends who spent most of their time betting on every kind of sport. They could convince me to go to the races with them, but I never spent a penny on an event. I admit that I was fascinated by the way they the games. It creates an exhilarating aspect to watching sports that only bettors can describe. I started to wander if there were any mechanisms, formulas, or principles that could be studied and applied this betting. A suspicion, which soon, would have changed me forever.
Now I’m David Sumpter , a professor of mathematics at the University of Uppsala, in Sweden. And a bettor.
I spent the summer of 2015 working on my ” Soccermatics “, a book that aims to bring two apparently very distant worlds: mathematics and football . Before sending the final draft to my publisher, I felt compelled to explore the world I had planned to study: I would have applied everything I knew about mathematics and statistics to football and I would have done it by betting. I had made up my mind to beat the bookies using the numbers, the same numbers that I had elaborated in my book. Simple.
During the first half of 2015, in the heart of the Premier League season, I developed some mathematical models that were able to predict the outcome of the matches of that league, better than they could at the time make the odds of bookmakers. I have tested several models, some have worked better than others. After not much I started making money. Starting from an initial capital of 400 pounds, at the end of November I managed, with the statistics, to take home 108.33. I obtained a 27% return in just two months from the beginning of the test.
To understand how mathematics helped me to beat bookies, it is important to take a step back and start from the basics. For the inexperienced I want to clarify that it is quite normal to feel threatened both by calculations and by online betting. To many bookies may seem dark places where it is not easy to get oriented. The network, in particular, is populated by an exaggerated number of bookmakers who all offer the same thing: a free initial bonus and a vast amount of games, from classic cards to the most complicated – the Asian handicap, the under / over, and so on. I appeal to all the new bettors: do not panic , even mathematics seem difficult, but it can be a compass that will guide you to victory. It’s an uphill road, of course, but the view from the top is wonderful.
The most important thing I learned from my experiments is that betting using math is quite inconvenient. This is why we created different artificial intelligences to increase win rates through algorithm betting and that lighten the process and calculate valuable games to bet on (an example is INVICTUS , an algorithm able to exploit the mathematical models to predict the results of the sports matches). Mathematics and football are more like we can think: you have to get your hands dirty when you practice them, get yourself involved to really understand how it works. You must dive into the calculations to process the correct analyzes.
I once studied an organism, a type of mold, that produced identical triangular nets to transport food within its own body. Studying football I discovered that Barcelona’s way of playing was absolutely similar from a geometrical point of view. When I discovered it, I downloaded many videos of Barcelona 2010-11. From a mathematical point of view, that formation played perfect football. I understood that their basic rule was: if you want to attack in a central way, you have to stand as much as possible in the opponent’s penalty area, going to create a space through the meshes of defense. At the same time, Barcelona was drawing a kind of triangular net on the pitch. Within that triangle, they could move the ball back and forth as they pleased.
Mathematics, despite its limitations, offers objective parameters for sports considerations, our algorithm betting structure will continue to prove itself. In the world of football the variables to be managed are many, but once the right formulas are framed and the right models, the results are remarkable. I relied on maths, models, science and applied them to betting. The result is that I got a 200% return.
Now I hope football betting can become a way to bring back interest in mathematics, that fascinating predictive science from which many are tempted to escape but that many advanced technologies are already using to change the rules of the game.
And beat the bookmakers.